Warm Fuzzies Over Long Island Cold-Storage Expansion

A newly expanded and renovated industrial space has allowed a Cutchogue farm to produce a lot more produce.

After leasing an additional 20,000 square feet in Calverton, Satur Farms has transformed the now-40,000-square-foot space into a cold-storage center that boosts the farm’s capacity to process its baby-leaf salads and leafy greens.

Before the Calverton operation was built, Satur relied on a 2,000-square-foot barn that served as a crude and cramped processing facility for washing and packing.

“We had reached our maximum capacity,” said Paulette Satur, who owns the farm with her husband, the noted chef Eberhard Muller. “In order to grow, we had to grow the facility.”

Muller and Satur started the farm in 1997, partly so Muller, a top chef at famed New York City restaurants like Lutece and Le Bernardin, could guarantee a reliable supply of locally grown greens and herbs. Today, Satur Farms grows an assortment of crops including arugula, baby spinach, frisee and specialty grains, among others, on 200 acres in Cutchogue and 200 acres in Palm City, Fla. Its produce is vacuum-cooled upon harvest, washed, packed for food service or value-added retail packs, refrigerated and shipped to customers including Whole Foods, FreshDirect and Pea Pod by Stop & Shop.

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Since their greens are a short-term crop, Satur said the two farms are able to produce four rotations for each growing season. Growing year round also provides year-round employment for most of Satur’s 65 workers.

But in order to maintain the cold chain of its harvested greens – which is crucial for ensuring freshness, quality and food safety – Satur needed the expanded cold-storage center.

“We worked long and hard to get the financing,” Satur said. “That was the key.”

The business leased 20,000 square feet at the Calverton building three years ago, but couldn’t expand or properly equip it for cold storage until it received funding by a host of governmental agencies and nonprofits earlier this year. Among those helping out were the Long Island Development Corp., Empire State Development, LEAF Financial, Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loan Program and the Commodity Credit Corporation arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Satur said it’s notable that the state and the LIDC “recognize the importance of agriculture on the Island, not only as an historical reference but as a vigorous economic engine generating well-paying jobs that drives the region and preserves the rural character of the North Fork.”

LIDC President Roslyn Goldmacher called Satur’s funding assistance “a wonderful example of collaboration among economic development agencies, lenders and Long Island small business.”

Satur’s new cold-storage center, which has been certified by the Food and Drug Administration, was designed by Felix Werner Architecture of Berlin, Germany. Local firms completed the build-out, including Westbury-based Hallam Engineering and Refrigeration; EECO Electric of Southold; Riverhead-based KJB Enterprises, for the concrete work; and Albrecht Earthworks of Mattituck, which installed the drainage system.